Polity or politics, they say, is a man-made social realm imbued with varying besetting infirmities. According to the late British journalist, she aversed, “It is a pity that more politicians are not bastards by birth rather than reputation.” Today, in our dear country, an average Nigerian across all the major ethnic divisions and varying social strata have a divergent view and perception about politics – especially the way and manner our gladiators go about it in our clime here. The politics you and I know is a game of mud throwing, bickering trading, mudslinging perfection, propaganda, mistrust, persecution practice and treachery enthronement by the bourgeoisie, the world over. What am I even saying? The day you joined politics in Nigeria, that remarkable day you have become or been perceived as a follow-come agent of Èṣù, ẹ́bọ́ra to njẹ latọ́ọ́pa – pardon my poor Yorùbá usage.
Here, politics seems like a devil terrain for any individual that wants to continue to have a firm grasp of the rope of sainthood. The gravity of the distrust on the side of the masses against the ruling class has, in no doubt, continued to place the character of any folk who takes a foray into polity on the moral sidelines – that is just the societal standpoint fuelled by agelong existential misrule and the political jilting of the poor Nigerians.
Based on recurring horrible political experiences, the army of people who are seated in the corridors of power and authority seem to us like avaricious predators who take enormous joy in preying on soft targets. And that is why we don’t receive them with apparent elation any moment they come intermittently to our doorsteps to get our greenlight to suck from our national seven-ring well for another 1, 460 days nonstop. They think we are oblivious to the fact that they have come again to lie and lie to us.
In the last few days, I have been observing, mind you, with the keenest interest the various political proceedings in the Kwara ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, especially those events that share an affinity with the party’s recently-concluded and forthcoming primaries. I have seen a lot of aspirants within various ranks of the ruling party campaign canvass support to fly the flags of their party in the next year’s general elections. No surprise at all, as most of these public office seekers did not renege for a second, on the by-hook-or-by-crook ploys they have always been perpetrating to achieve their political aspirations.
But many of us are dazzled as the Turaki of Ilorin, Mallam Saliu Mustapha set a new political precedent as he betrayed the subsisting political status quo of tearing others’ garments to mend his own. He, indeed, in all his campaign outings has endeared himself to the general public including those that are not his supporters. One of such gracious occasions was when he had a meeting with the APC faithful in his ward, Gambari I, immediately after he took control of the Microphone, the astute politician showed a high level of moral uprightness after seeking a mandate from the people of his ward. He, therefore, explained to the gathering that the current senator representing Kwara Central at the 9th Senate, Dr Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe has without any misgiving recorded excellent performance, but he assured his supporters that he would do everything possible in his capacity to surpass his excellent record if given the mandate to represent them in the 10th National Assembly come 2023. Throughout my life, I have not seen such a show of nobility and uprightness from a Nigerian politician like Mallam Saliu Mustapha. That gentlemanly speech righted my impression that not all politicians are crooks.
At another political meeting in Gambari Ward II, Saliu Mustapha proved that he is not a regular politician with his virtuous presentation. He was referring to the fellow contingent from Ilorin East Local Government, Ambassador Abdulfatai Yahya Seriki who is rivalling him for the Kwara Central senatorial ticket as his brother from the same home, further noting that he saw no reason whatever to involve in bickering, violence, a campaign of calumny or reputation destruction game with his brother in a bid to clinch the senate ticket. He said any clime where such becomes a resort, the unprecedented opportunity would be thrown to outsiders. Mallam as he is fondly called in the public space, instead of advanced that any aspirant who ends up as the party’s candidate should be supported by others to finally coast home with victory in the general elections next year.
Aside from his philanthropic gestures, Mallam is a rare politician to come by in this 21st century. He understands the heaviness of the moral burden that comes with the traditional diadem he is entrusted with by the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari and instead of this stark reality, he has never allowed his political pursuit to set his moral responsibilities off the track. Polity would have been perceived as a terrain for angels if other public office seekers had taken a cue from this great preacher of peace and order.
Mallam Saliu Mustapha, an apostle of ‘Politics Without Bitterness’ reminds me of a Second Republic politician, Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim, a Kanuri man from Borno who found the Great Nigeria People’s Party, GNPP. He was Nigeria’s second Minister of Economy after the Late Jaja Wachuku. Alhaji Waziri was a reputable proponent of ‘Politics Without Bitterness’ throughout the Second Republic. This Borno born politician was renown for his populistic and upright political principles throughout his entire political odyssey he believed that politics should be accompanied by moral virtues and not bitterness. Luckily for me, I stumbled upon an interview one of his daughters, Hawwa Waziri Ibrahim granted Daily Trust, the extract from the interview dissects the late Alhaji Waziri Kolo Ibrahim’s political principles.
“Did you ever ask your late father what he meant by ‘politics without bitterness’?”
“Yes. He said what he meant by that is when a politician either formed or joined politics, he is doing it with an aim of how to deliver his message through the campaign and to either win or lose in good fate. ‘Politics without bitterness’ was my father’s idea that you are not just there to win in political competition. He said people insist on winning after putting in their resources and, at the end of the day, when they lose, they get disappointed. He said politics is just like a race in the Olympics where if you don’t get the gold, you get the bronze or silver and be satisfied even if you don’t win, The fact that you compete should be satisfying. He said as the loser, you look up to the person that won, not as the enemy, but as the lucky person who is saddled with the responsibility of leading the nation, or the area where my polls were conducted. If you meet the person who won, shake his hand, and laugh about it as if life is a game. Nigerians are hardworking people, as many are making efforts to improve on their lifestyles.”
Mallam Saliu Mustapha is a modern politician with a refined political character with populistic instinct aimed at setting new dawn in Kwara Central.
He is not in the ilk of content politicians whose ambitions are driven by personal whims and caprices.
Kamaldeen Isiaq writes from Adewole, Ilorin.